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Old October 28, 2023, 10:08 PM   #1
ghbucky
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hypothetical short barrel shotgun

as a hypothetical question:

Say someone has cut down a shotgun barrel to where it is no longer legal under NFA.

What happens when that person passes away? Is there a legal option to surrender something like that?
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Old October 29, 2023, 12:23 AM   #2
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A lot of times, the barrel can be easily removed and destroyed. That's an easy fix because you can have a shotgun receiver without a barrel and there are no negative legal ramifications.

Simply taking it apart is insufficient as having both together (particularly if you don't have any way to make a legal firearm with the short barrel) is legally problematic.

You can also surrender the firearm to the authorities if you don't want to go to the trouble of trying to make it legal or if removing the barrel is too difficult.

It might also be possible to turn it over to a dealer who is licensed to handle such items and have them hold it until you can get the paperwork taken care of to take legal possession of it.
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Old October 29, 2023, 01:35 AM   #3
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Say someone has cut down a shotgun barrel to where it is no longer legal under NFA.
If the barrel is (or could be)attached to a receiver that you possess, and under the legal minimum length then the (unregistered) shotgun is in violation of the NFA.

IF all you have is just the barrel, and no shotgun it can go on, then its "a piece of pipe" or a part, and not an NFA firearm.

If its the sort of thing where the previous owner made an illegal sawed off shotgun, and has passed on and you have "inherited it" (like found it in a closet or something) normally you can surrender the weapon to any police agency without being charged with anything.

If you are very worried, contact a lawyer pay for, and follow his advice.
If you do have the entire gun, check it to see if it is just the barrel that is too short. Shotguns have both a barrel length and an overall length minimum under Federal law. It is possible to have an illegal sawed off shotgun with a legal length barrel if the stock is cut so short as to make the overall length of the gun less than the legal limit. I think the Fed legal overall length is 26", but I'm not sure, its been some time since I looked at the law.

hypothetically, if you remove and destroy the parts that make it illegal, and repair the gun with parts that comply with the law, you're fine. IF you just remove the parts and keep them, so that they could be reattached to the gun you have, you're not fine and likely in violation of the law.

Constructive possession is a real charge and nothing to be trifled with.
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Old October 29, 2023, 07:35 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ghbucky
Say someone has cut down a shotgun barrel to where it is no longer legal under NFA.
The first step would be to find out whether it is legal under the NFA. If there's a stamp for it, there may be an heir who wants to go through the transfer process. The item you describe doesn't sound extremely desirable, but you never know what attachment an heir will have.

Either way, the item should be held by the representative of the estate or his counsel. It still happens that people will die with interesting things in their collections that would have been retainable NFA items if they had applied. Historically I've communicated directly with ATF about items in my possession and not had any problem, but not in the last couple of years.

I don't like hearing back that there is no stamp when the item looks like an overseas bring back. ATF is OK with me destroying it myself or dropping it off with police to destroy. I never destroy it myself, but leave it with a thoroughly bent local police department. I assume it will find its way into an individual POs collection.
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Old October 29, 2023, 08:15 AM   #5
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If in doubt, the barrel could be destroyed and the gun sold for parts. In some cases, a barrel extension can be permanently welded on the end to meet legal limits of 18 inches measured from the chamber opening to tip of the barrel.
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Old October 29, 2023, 03:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
ghbucky as a hypothetical question:

Say someone has cut down a shotgun barrel to where it is no longer legal under NFA.
It's a felony to possess.


Quote:
What happens when that person passes away? Is there a legal option to surrender something like that?
Yes.
Destroy the firearm per ATF guidelines or surrender it to ATF or the local PD.

Alternatively, just discard the barrel. A shotgun receiver is not an NFA firearm.
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Old October 29, 2023, 03:24 PM   #7
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JohnKSa.....It might also be possible to turn it over to a dealer who is licensed to handle such items and have them hold it until you can get the paperwork taken care of to take legal possession of it.
That would be illegal possession of an unregistered NFA firearm by the dealer, so no, don't do that.
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Old October 29, 2023, 03:48 PM   #8
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That would be illegal possession of an unregistered NFA firearm by the dealer, so no, don't do that.
Interesting. That's what I get for speculating.
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Old October 30, 2023, 12:53 AM   #9
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I think there's something we need to be clear about, and its not impossible I'm not understanding it correctly.

And it has to do with whether we are talking about an assembled functional firearm, or something else.

What I'm wondering is, for those who are more familiar with the subject than I am, does the offending item no longer offend when it is no longer in a functional configuration??

Nearly all modern shotguns, other than some bolt actions, can have the barrel(s) removed by hand. SO, here's my hypothetical, if it is only the barrel length that makes the shotgun illegal, and you remove that too short barrel (and ensure it won't go back on the gun, then isn't the barrel less gun legal?

and, without being ON a gun, isn't the short barrel legal?? Aren't they only illegal when assembled together, or in a condition where they could be assembled together??
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Old October 30, 2023, 02:10 AM   #10
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...if it is only the barrel length that makes the shotgun illegal, and you remove that too short barrel (and ensure it won't go back on the gun, then isn't the barrel less gun legal?
Possessing the short barrel would be legal if the barrel is REMOVED from the firearm in question and then modified in a clearly permanent manner that will prevent it from being assembled back into an illegal configuration. Not sure why someone would want to do that vs. just destroying it.

Possessing the short barrel would be legal if the person also possesses a firearm to which the barrel could be assembled into a legal configuration AND the barrel isn't ever assembled into an illegal configuration on some other firearm in the person's possession.

Possessing the short barrel would be legal if the person does not own any firearm to which the barrel could be assembled into an illegal configuration.

Keep in mind that playing this kind of game could result in having to prove, in court, how the approach you have taken conforms to the law. I would be interested to know if anyone can think of a scenario where owning a shotgun barrel you can't ever legally use would be worth that kind of risk.
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Old October 30, 2023, 05:28 PM   #11
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Thanks for the examples, that's pretty much what I thought.

Quote:
Keep in mind that playing this kind of game could result in having to prove, in court, how the approach you have taken conforms to the law.
Doesn't every criminal accusation eventually come down to this, anyway? I know we hear all the time about how the prosecution has to prove you are guilty, but isn't reality actually usually the opposite? If you can't prove/demonstrate your innocence by disproving the charges with an alibi or reasonable alternate explanation, you can be convicted,

Quote:
I would be interested to know if anyone can think of a scenario where owning a shotgun barrel you can't ever legally use would be worth that kind of risk.
How about keepsake, knick knack, paper weight (do people still do that??) Object d'Art (in your opinion) foot or so long piece of steel pipe (cheater handle??) portion of as yet unfinished metal sculpture, door handle, or anything you can think of that isn't a shotgun barrel...

If one does not own a gun it can be fitted to, is just a piece of steel with dimensions x,y, and z.

isn't it??
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Old October 30, 2023, 09:00 PM   #12
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Permanently welding or brazing an extension to the end of the barrel could save a perfectly good gun. I don't know why one would destroy the entire gun just to replace the barrel? Of course he needs to "destroy" an NFA item but that can be done by fixing the problem. The key question also is how long is it now? A field barrel can be chopped to 18 inches and still be legal as a sawed off shotgun as far as I know.
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Old October 30, 2023, 10:52 PM   #13
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Doesn't every criminal accusation eventually come down to this, anyway?
Exactly. Which is why it's better to avoid doing things that could result in criminal accusations.
Quote:
If one does not own a gun it can be fitted to, is just a piece of steel with dimensions x,y, and z.
No, it's a shotgun barrel that's under the legal length. If you don't have a gun it can be fitted to, you should be able to defend yourself in court, if it comes to that. Or you could just avoid the whole mess entirely and destroy the barrel or get rid of it.
Quote:
Permanently welding or brazing an extension to the end of the barrel could save a perfectly good gun. I don't know why one would destroy the entire gun just to replace the barrel?
Welding, I think is acceptable. Not sure about brazing. But there's no need to destroy the gun unless the barrel can't be removed without destroying the receiver. Just take the barrel off and get rid of it or destroy it and you're good.
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Old October 31, 2023, 01:51 PM   #14
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No, it's a shotgun barrel that's under the legal length.
Is it??

when its not on a gun, and there's no gun to attach it to, is it still "under legal length"??

I realize its mostly word games, what I'm trying to look at are principles and uniformity in the way items are treated and their legal status.

I can buy (or make) a shotgun barrel 8" long. Its perfectly legal and unrestricted to own, AS LONG AS I don't have a shotgun to put it on.

If I then apply for the federal license and tax stamp to make a SBS, and wait for its approval before I build a gun with that barrel, I'm complying with the law. If I don't, then, I'm not. Right??

Isn't this the same principle as a "shorty" AR barrel (or complete upper)??
I can own as many of those as I want, they can be mailed to my door USPS, they aren't regulated items, or restricted, (as they are not firearms) AS LONG AS I don't have a lower receiver they could be mounted on.

I think it is flawed reasoning to assume that an item that "has only one use" and therefore that must be the only thing a person can do with it, and the only reason for owning one is to do that thing with it, is a value judgement, and valid only in the eyes of those making that judgement.

Certainly there are situations where that is the case, and the reason someone has that something is that they intend to do what you think they will do, with it. But is it right to just make the blanket assumption that everyone who might own that item plans to do that with it? I don't.
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Old October 31, 2023, 11:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Is it??
...
I can buy (or make) a shotgun barrel 8" long. Its perfectly legal and unrestricted to own, AS LONG AS I don't have a shotgun to put it on.
Yeah, I think it is. You think it is, based on what you are writing. Any reasonable person will think it is.

Yes, it's legal to own a shotgun barrel under the legal length if you don't have any way to assemble it into an illegal configuration. You should be able to defend yourself against charges if it comes down to that.
Quote:
I think it is flawed reasoning to assume that an item that "has only one use" and therefore that must be the only thing a person can do with it, and the only reason for owning one is to do that thing with it, is a value judgement, and valid only in the eyes of those making that judgement.
I'm not arguing any point remotely related to that assessment.

My point is far more practical than that.

Playing this kind of game could result in having to prove, in court, how the approach you have taken conforms to the law. I would be interested to know if anyone can think of a scenario where owning a shotgun barrel you can't ever legally use would be worth that kind of risk--even if the chances of getting into that situation are very small.
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Old November 2, 2023, 01:57 PM   #16
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Quote:
Quote:
No, it's a shotgun barrel that's under the legal length.
Is it??

when its not on a gun, and there's no gun to attach it to, is it still "under legal length"??
It remains a barrel for a short bbl shotgun, an AOW or a PG firearm that expels a shotgun shell.....which is a Title I firearm such as the Rem Tac14 or Mossberg Shockwave.

Quote:
I realize its mostly word games, what I'm trying to look at are principles and uniformity in the way items are treated and their legal status.

I can buy (or make) a shotgun barrel 8" long. Its perfectly legal and unrestricted to own, AS LONG AS I don't have a shotgun to put it on.

If I then apply for the federal license and tax stamp to make a SBS, and wait for its approval before I build a gun with that barrel, I'm complying with the law. If I don't, then, I'm not. Right??
As long as you don't possess that 8" bbl with a receiver that allows assembly as a regulated firearm you are fine.



Quote:
Isn't this the same principle as a "shorty" AR barrel (or complete upper)??
I can own as many of those as I want, they can be mailed to my door USPS, they aren't regulated items, or restricted, (as they are not firearms) AS LONG AS I don't have a lower receiver they could be mounted on.
Correct.

Quote:
I think it is flawed reasoning to assume that an item that "has only one use" and therefore that must be the only thing a person can do with it, and the only reason for owning one is to do that thing with it, is a value judgement, and valid only in the eyes of those making that judgement.
Even evil ATF doesn't take that view.
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Old January 19, 2024, 11:13 AM   #17
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Didn't a short shotgun barrel have something to do with Randy Weaver?
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Old January 19, 2024, 12:20 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by HHQ View Post
Didn't a short shotgun barrel have something to do with Randy Weaver?
Yes but the context was quite different. Randy was "requested" to cut the barrel(s) to less than 16 inches by a purchaser. IIRC, it was later determined the actual length was 16.25in after cutting. Don't remember anything about the overall length though. The "standoff" was because of not appearing in court related to this.
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Old January 19, 2024, 02:51 PM   #19
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"It might also be possible to turn it over to a dealer who is licensed to handle such items and have them hold it until you can get the paperwork taken care of to take legal possession of it."

IIRC, that ain't gonna happen. Quite a few years back but after the no new or old machine guns could not be registered a man bought a house as a fixer-upper. When he was replacing the paneling on the walls he found a mint Thompson sub machine gun. When he tried to get it register, is was after the cut off date, the ATF confiscated the gun and IIRC gave a pretty hard time as well.

I know this was a "Tommy gun" and not a shot gun but wouldn't the same rules apply?
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Old January 19, 2024, 04:11 PM   #20
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I know this was a "Tommy gun" and not a shot gun but wouldn't the same rules apply?
SOME of the same rules apply, but not all of them. WHEN the short barrel is installed on a receiver, NFA item, check. Required to be registered (and tax paid) in order for legal ownership, check. But then things split more than a bit.

The 1986 Hughes Amendment closed the civilian machinegun registry. No new or newly discovered machine guns can be added to the legal civil registry.

"Sawed off" shotguns and rifles are not on the closed list. They are on different lists, which are still open to new / newly converted SBR/SBS additions. Additionally, they are regulated by the size (length) only, where the Tommy Gun is regulated because it is a machine gun. Not because of its overall length or barrel length.

There is no additional regulation for short barrel or "sawed off" machine guns. A Tommy Gun with an 11" barrel is not regulated as a short barrel rifle (SBR) the way a "shorty AR" is, because the shorty AR is a semi auto, and the Tommygun is a full auto machine gun, and machine gun status takes precedence over all other features.

As to the Randy Weaver matter, there are lots of stories about what happened, with differing details, and none of them, including the sworn testimony at the trial are proven beyond doubt.

The story I heard, and consider most plausible, is that Weaver cut the barrels to legal length (18" or possibly 18.25"). The guy who wanted the barrels cut (and bought the guns after Weaver cut them) was an ATF informant, and that when he delivered the guns to the ATF agents running the case, the guns were measured and came up 1/4" short of the legal overall length. The entire matter resulting from that was horribly and tragically mishandled by the ATF and the FBI and Weaver's son and wife, and a US Marshal died as a result. Also remember that after the prosecutor literally walked out of court and quit during the trial, the Govt settled with Weaver, paying a bunch of money and "admitted no wrong doing".
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Old January 20, 2024, 02:14 PM   #21
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ballardw
...Randy was "requested" to cut the barrel(s) to less than 16 inches by a purchaser. IIRC, it was later determined the actual length was 16.25in after cutting.....
And?
The minimum length of a Title I shotgun barrel is 18". Whether it was 16" or 16.25" is irrelevant as both would be considered a SBS.
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Old January 20, 2024, 02:27 PM   #22
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SOME of the same rules apply, but not all of them. WHEN the short barrel is installed on a receiver, NFA item, check. Required to be registered (and tax paid) in order for legal ownership, check. But then things split more than a bit.
It's nitpicky, but a short barrel installed on a receiver isn't necessarily a SBS or NFA firearm. The Remington TAC14 and Mossberg Shockwave are example that are not NFA firearms. Both have 14" barrels.

A barrel of less than 18" installed on a receiver with a shoulder stock is a SBS. As is any shotgun with any length barrel and an OAL of less than 26".


Quote:
machine gun status takes precedence over all other features.
Absolutely true.

Quote:
As to the Randy Weaver matter, there are lots of stories about what happened, with differing details, and none of them, including the sworn testimony at the trial are proven beyond doubt.

The story I heard, and consider most plausible, is that Weaver cut the barrels to legal length (18" or possibly 18.25"). The guy who wanted the barrels cut (and bought the guns after Weaver cut them) was an ATF informant, and that when he delivered the guns to the ATF agents running the case, the guns were measured and came up 1/4" short of the legal overall length. The entire matter resulting from that was horribly and tragically mishandled by the ATF and the FBI and Weaver's son and wife, and a US Marshal died as a result. Also remember that after the prosecutor literally walked out of court and quit during the trial, the Govt settled with Weaver, paying a bunch of money and "admitted no wrong doing".
This.

I believe Weaver was recorded by the FBI as offering to supply an informant several sawed off shotguns per week. Whether sawed off or not, thats engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without an FFL.

I have no doubt that Randy Weaver was engaged in illegal activity. He shared responsibility for the deaths of his wife and child with the FBI. In an interview years later he said as much.
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